But, if I’m honest and in more normal times, when I think of Goodwood, there are plenty of names that spring to mind before Big John’s. Stirling, obviously, Graham Hill and even the likes of Roy Salvadori and Jack Sears are all drivers I more readily associate with Goodwood. I don’t know why that is, perhaps because the events for which Surtees is best remembered happened elsewhere. But there is one person that to me is Goodwood personified, a man who not only achieved great things here, but did so in a very Goodwood way. That man is Innes Ireland.
Ireland passed away 24 years ago aged just 63, and sometimes I feel he has not been remembered in the same way as many of his contemporaries. Perhaps that’s not surprising: he only won a single World Championship Grand Prix and while he enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame and success in the sport that he loved, so too did he suffer a long and often painful decline. He eventually retired from the sport in 1967, sick of what he saw as the rampant commercialism that had taken it over. One wonders what he would have made of it half a century later.
Why Goodwood? Well, it was here at the Easter Monday meeting in 1960 that he exploded into motor-racing’s collective conscience. That day he drove in both the F2 race and in the F1 Glover Trophy and stunned the world not just by winning, but beating Stirling on both occasions. Yes, Ireland had a Lotus 18 at his disposal and Stirling did not, but the performance was sufficiently eye-opening for me once to ask the maestro what he thought of Innes the driver. His reply surprised me, because we all know Ireland’s reputation as a hell-raiser, but not how much it clouded his reputation behind the wheel. ‘Everyone remembers what a good bloke Innes was,’ said Stirling, ‘but I’ll tell you what, when the practice times went up, you only ever bothered to look at three of four of them – and Innes was always one of them.
He went further: ‘There are many people out there who have won a Grands Prix without ever deserving to. Innes deserved to win a whole lot more than he did. The record does not do him justice.’